Saturday, November 12, 2011

"We Can Do Better" propaganda than you

Update: turns one co-founder is Christine Healey DeVaull; her Dad, Bob Healey, made a fortune selling luxury boats, and now shares some of it through the Healey Philanthropic Group, whose Executive Director is~ta da~Christine. She also was the ED International Education Foundation and subsequently created the Catholic School Development Program. The communication guy is Dominic Pepper.

I was not looking for trouble this morning. Saturday mornings are for creating new ideas for class, so I was wandering around, listening to Frank Nosche, running through the AP listserve, while working on a revised syllabus for AP Biology.

An advertisement popped up while I viewed a "science" video. (OK, it was a swimming scallop.) The ad was for We Can Do Better New Jersey, a coalition of "various educational and philanthropic groups and individuals" who support NJ's proposed New Jersey Opportunity Scholarship Act, essentially a voucher system that would allow educational scholarships to private schools for low income students.

That's a complicated issue, and not what got me roiling. I can see how well-meaning, reasonable folks can take contrary positions on an issue deeply entwined in history, in culture, and in economics, an issue with profound effects on children.

What got me roiling was the propaganda.


Unlike vouchers, the program is funded by corporate tax credits....[T]here’s no added burden to taxpayers.
Um, do the math--states must maintain balanced budgets. Tax credits mean less revenue from the corporation toward the state's general fund.

That's an added burden to the taxpayer--we're either hit for more revenue or we get less services.

You might believe that reducing services is the right thing to do--bully for you. Just don't hide under patently contradictory claims.

If a company wants to give a child, any child,  scholarship to go anywhere, anywhere, no one is stopping them....

Because businesses bear a huge burden of having to train unprepared workers who are the products of failed educational experiences, it is only logical that these businesses should have the opportunity to direct their tax liabilities to a source which they feel will improve the educational quality of graduating students (potential employees).

I had a huge burden raising my two children--it's only logical that I should have the opportunity to direct my tax liabilities to my family. Oh, and I'm not paying for roads anymore except the ones I use. If your house is on fire, you pay for the firefighters. It's only logical.

If you believe that public education exists to provide prepared workers for private enterpise, then it's only logical to have the businesses pay for all educational costs. To be fair, a lot of corporations are giving children an education in life--a child working for Apple or Nike learns early on what Hobbesian means.

Is this a voucher bill? No.

Depends on how you define "voucher," I suppose, but let's keep the argument honest. Public money ("tax credits") directed by private interests will be used to help support private schools. As I said up top, rational people can hold contrary views.

Blatantly misdirecting the argument makes for great sophistry, but I expect more from a website that claims it takes the high ground here:

By leveraging the support of schools and local communities, we hope to convince legislators of the value of this bill for the school children of New Jersey and for all New Jersey citizens fiscally, philosophically, and ethically.

Oh, and one more thing. Asking for donations is a cute touch, gives the site a grass roots feel. I'm betting that the "philanthropists" involved have got the bills covered.

I'd be much obliged if anyone could direct me to a list of donors.

The astroturf badge is from SourceWatch, used under CC 3.0
The girl stitching a soccer ball is from Oxfam Australia.
The bold purple quotes all from the We Can Do Better NJ website.


John T. Spencer said...

The courts have declared that our own voucher bill (a horrendous one allowing families to get a tax credit for $1,000 if they choose any private school) is totally constitutional. Does it matter that the money goes to religious schools? Nope. Does it matter that it strips the public schools of a tax base? Nope. It's done in the name of "credits" rather than "vouchers" which makes it all okay.

SocWkrNJ said...

Well written and hit on all the points we should question. I have not found a list of "donors" anywhere which always concerns me. B4KNJ, you can follow the money and see that they are a shadow org for money and where it all started ... but who are the shadowy dollar faces behind WCDBNJ?

doyle said...

Dear John,

It's amazing how the folks in power can juggle words. It's like the late 19th century all over again.


Dear SocWkrNJ,

I looked for the money sources, but could not find them. I suspect it's got the backing of the hedge fund trader guys who have jumped into the fray. If you find out, please let me know.

Thanks for dropping by!

Deciminyan said...

Great analysis. If you're on Facebook, go to "deciminyan" for a discussion on how this WCDBNJ stifles civilized discussion.

jeffpickens said...

Good sleuthing getting the name of the person in charge. I could not find a single name on their website. We can see the real agenda here, it's not to improve education, rather to enrich the Catholic schools at taxpayer expense.

doyle said...

Dear Deciminyan,

Thanks for keeping up what little noise we can make out there--money carries the day for a little while, sometimes a long while, but I trust the truth will come out.

Dear jeffpickens,

Astroturf "groups" annoy the snot out of me. It just amazes me that people get so easily fooled.

I guess if you're the owner of a yacht company, you come to believe different rules apply, and in the political and economic scheme of things, I guess they do. Hard to bend the truth, though, no matter how expensive your clothes (or your boats) are.